The Zen of Sensitivity & Suffering

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Was doing good until sunset on Father's day. Then it got to me and the blues arrived. Used to resist sadness, fight it. Now I just go with it. Roll with it. Flow with it, like a canoe downstream. (Resisting and fighting just wears me out.) Been here enough times that I know the drill. No big deal.

yin yang There's a prophetic verse in Isaiah saying Jesus was ".. a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." So it seems okay to be sad, tho not particularly pleasant. I get kinda numb, distant. Feel like crying.

Been reading a book on Zen a friend gave me. Interesting ideas, perspectives. For example, here's a passage I found particularly thought-provoking.

The context is about rejecting the notion that anything that doesn't involve serious effort (and usually pain-n-suffering) is somehow unworthy or worthless. But the concept can be applied in other ways. See here:

Now there do seem to be times when verve & vigor are appropriate. Times when force works with, and not against nature. As Shakespeare said, "There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune." [Julius Caesar, Act 4, scene 3]

But when the tide is not at flood, when mere brawn is up against granite, the effort to go against nature seems more stupid than splendid.

At best, one could say with the French general of the Charge of the Light Brigade, "C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre." To call it splendid is to base one's evaluation of man on his animal strength over what is more characteristically human » his intelligence.

This mis-evaluation is perhaps based on the common distrust of intelligence on the part of those who lack it, as something tricky, cunning and weak-spined. But this mis-evaluation also reduces the standards of human character until they are more applicable to pachyderms and rocks than human beings.

For after all, is the final test of character really just in seeing how much suffering you can endure? Your ability to endure depends on how insensitive you are. But being human is about, above all, being sensitive. And this means, the measure of character becomes, among other things, the quality rather than the quantity of your suffering.

••• today's entry continues here below •••

For the depth and quality of human consciousness is outlined and defined by its borders, beyond which there are things it cannot endure. Thus, our very weaknesses are our strengths. As Lao Tzu said, "Suppleness and tenderness are associated with life, while rigidity and hardness are associated with death."

So I guess this pain means I'm still alive. Court tomorrow. Gonna paddle my canoe up to the courthouse. All I have going for me is love (for my boy) & the truth. But sometimes in court, truth goes a-begging. [ No, love and truth are not always enough .. not in the courtroom, where lawyers rule. ]

By the way, did you know that Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching (6th century BC) is the world's 2nd most translated book (after the Bible)?

Speaking of the Bible .. I know this guy from the coffee shop .. who's studying to become a priest. He's always poring over some gnarly text, such as (most recently) Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. So he usually has interesting ideas to share.

He's more incensed at the injustice than anyone. He thinks I should make-up false allegations of my own as a way to combat "fire with fire." Strikes me as odd to hear this coming from a future clergyman. "That's not me," I told him. "I don't wanna win that bad." He prays for me, tho.

He has told me that my relationship with the Bug is "the best of any father/son relationship" he's ever seen. (He's seen us together dozens of times over the years.)

Another guy at the coffee shop (from Georgia), who went thru similar things, told me he had to "finally stop caring" about his kids .. as a way to stop the heartache.

"I can't do that," I told him. (Tho I can certainly see how somebody might get to that point.)

Surprised me to see, while reading the book on Zen, a reference to the technique I've been using for years to handle this insanity. They call it » mushin, and describe it this way:

To be in a state of mushin is to have a mind like a mirror. It graps nothing. It refuses nothing. It receives but does not keep. The perfect man employs his mind as a mirror.

It's as tho I see life playing out before me, on a mirror. It's about me. In other words, these Restraining Orders have my name on them. The police reports have my name on them. And I can see them, and it's all rather interesting, and at times unbelievable. Yet I take none of it personally. It stays "over there" (in the mirror) .. cuz if I were to take it personally (i.e. » let it come "over here"), it would eat me alive.

I developed these techniques, of course, not for any Zen practice, but rather as a coping mechanism .. out of necessity (survival). But friends have long been saying, "I don't know how you do it," and "You have a very Zen approach to all this." (I just never knew what they meant by that.)

Now when it comes to the Bug, that's a little harder to "mirror-ize," because he cannot defend himself. So I am vulnerable there. But that's the price you pay. And it is worth it. Something (you could call god) picks you up every time you get knocked down.

I do everything I possibly can. I see him as much as the courts will let me, and I love him as best I can in the limited time I'm allotted. I give him as much quality attention as I can, etc.

And any detrimental effects he might suffer as a result of this insanity lie with factors beyond my control. (Friends have helped me get to this place. I used to feel responsible for everything .. even things beyond my control.)

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This page contains a single entry by Rad published on June 29, 2009 2:11 PM.

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